“It won’t matter what I said to you. But it will matter that I said it. It will matter that in the sharp silence of the night, when the falling snow is deafeningly soft, you will have some kind memory to keep you warm.” — this is not a love poem (unpublished)
It’s been a year, and the tides are pulling again, but this time I’m a more experienced sailor. I will keep my ship on track, for both our benefits.
I hope you’re well. I hope you’re not hiding away too much so that we don’t worry. I hope you’re staying true. It takes someone very special – very committed – to do what you do, and I want to express how appreciative of and honored by your commitment that I am. Your work has always been so beautiful to me, and I’m so excited to see what more you produce this year, next year, ten years from now. Watching your continued growth is going to be fascinating. I plan to be there for all of it.
But I admire you personally, as well. You’ve always striven to be honest and respectful and kind, and to be those things consistently. So far as I can tell, you have succeeded in this at every juncture. That, quite frankly, is amazing. You are so careful and precise about everything you do, you put in so much thought and effort, that it is nearly impossible not to be inspired. And while I hope that you are not so self-deprecating and self-conscious as everyone, I feel that is not the case. I feel that somewhere beneath all the driven, creative, tireless person you endeavor to be, you are, in fact, quite sensitive. I see it in the meticulousness you take in your work. I see it in the way you choose your words. I see it in your propensity for music. I see it even in your quiet. This trait is admirable, too. Introspection and self-awareness come with inherent sensitivity, and there are a great many people who never learn those things.
Perhaps I see a bit of myself in you. Or perhaps, rather, a person I would like to become. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy you so much.
Thank you again for all that you have done and will continue to do, and for sharing yourself so thoroughly.
I have followed you for several years now, and while I don’t know you as personally as I do others, this does not mean that I do not have a great appreciation for you as a person. You possess a talent that I have seen scarcely in my life: you make learning an engaging and fun experience. I am so grateful that you have agreed to share your knowledge in such an easily accessible and understandable format. Your teaching is something that is invaluable not only to our country, but to the entire world. You bring to light (and to life) topics that are not only rarely discussed, even in private, but some which are not spoken of at all. You give people the permission they need to learn such vital information as that which you offer. Moreover, you give people permission to speak about it, to share it, to ask questions, and to stay curious. You and your work are invaluable for a world that seeks to lessen the stigma that so many face around these topics. You and your work are invaluable for a world that seeks to grow in its knowledge of the human experience. You and your work, quite simply, are invaluable.
I greatly look forward to your continued teaching, and wish you the absolute best in every avenue you pursue.
I’m sure a lot of messages you get begin with something like, “You’re so beautiful!” And while this is true, unequivocally so, even, that is not the point of this letter.
Your talent is outstanding. You are an artist through and through, and your eye for texture and color is a remarkable thing for which I envy you. Your passion for creating stand-out compositions is bolstering to some of my laziest creative days, and has led me, more than once, to try a combination that I would have otherwise been inept to find.
In addition to this tremendous skill, you are also a magnificent person, and I am continually inspired by your confidence and humility. Your drive to make your craft accessible and fun to every single person who wishes to learn it is truly commendable. The fact that you remain down-to-earth and approachable while doing so is only further testament to your shining personality.
I am excited to continue learning with you, as you continue to teach and showcase your brilliant creativity.
Congratulations on your beautiful wedding! I am so happy for you and your new husband to begin your journey through marriage, and that you get to bring your darling daughter along with you. How excited you must be!
Your enthusiasm and laughter are absolutely infectious, and your lightheartedness is an uplifting gift on some rather “blah” days. You never fail to make me smile. Even in your less-than-fabulous moments, your simple charm is brightening, and I appreciate your honesty so much, even if it sometimes takes you a while to come to terms with sharing it. I am very grateful for your choice to share your courageous and optimistic spirit, and with it your many adventures in life.
I look forward to seeing you continue to grow and experience the great many things the future has to offer you.
Best of luck,
Simon & Martina,
Congratulations on your recent move! I hope you’re settling in well. I hope you’re genuinely as excited to be confused all over again as you seem to be. I hope your transition isn’t too difficult. I’m so happy for you to be going on new adventures. I’m sure they’ll be as exciting and fulfilling as your past ones.
You’ve grown up a lot in the last few years, and though maybe part of that is just getting comfortable in your new (now old) home, I imagine that a lot of it was simply getting older, too. But I am so glad that you haven’t let getting older dampen your vivacious, silly personalities. I do so enjoy seeing you play and learn together. Your relationship, if any, has shown me that it is completely possible to be more and more in love with someone every single day, and I look to you when I have trouble remembering that love is a great and worthwhile thing. Your commitment to each other, even as you both change and grow, and even as you both face your own individual hardships, is heartening.
Martina: your enthusiasm and zest, even in the face of pain, is something that is truly awe-inspiring. I hope that you will always find the strength to get you through.
Simon: your dedication to your wife and your selflessness to her is a tremendous act of love, which speaks to the depth and breadth of your character. I wish you continued happiness and inspiration, both within your marriage and without.
Thank you both so much for sharing your experience. May you always pursue the next great joy you seek.
Sean & Carissa,
I don’t know that I’ve ever expressed to you before the depth of my appreciation for you, aside from telling you, and I quote, that you are “terribly, disgustingly wonderful.”
I am so happy that you are happy together, and that despite your hardships, you have made your marriage work as a partnership both with each other and with God, on top of work and parenting two beautiful and busy children. Your dedication to your family and to your faith is unlike anything I have seen before, and likely unlike anything I will see again. You really are a special breed.
Both of you have always been so welcoming, and I enjoy your company tremendously. It is a shame that I do not see you more often, but we are all so busy and it is a sad reality that our schedules are simply incompatible. Nonetheless, I watch your updates with interest and I am always happy to hear that you are well, or to see your babies’ faces on my feeds.
Sean: I remember with great fondness our many discussions on theology and philosophy, and am content in the knowledge that you will always happily give me a sarcastic reply to any question I may pose to you.
Carissa: Your expedience as a mother, wife, and woman is admirable. Even if you don’t feel it, I guarantee you always seem well-put-together.
Please continue to be terribly disgusting, and I promise I will continue enjoying it with fervor.
Lisa & Jodi,
You are both, without a doubt, the best teachers I have ever had, and you have taught me much, much more than just whatever was in your lesson plan. For that, I will always be grateful to you.
You were always prepared to listen and advise with any of my problems, and always seemed genuinely invested not only in my academic career, but in my personal growth and wellbeing, and as a disillusioned and anxious teenager, that is more than I could have ever asked or expected from you. You truly went above and beyond your job description as educators and became some of the best friends I made in my four years of high school. I am so honored that you continue to remain in my life after your requisite time as my teachers.
Lisa: You gave me the best book I ever read, and continually encouraged me to write more and write better, and for that I will always be in your debt.
Jodi: You took such good care of me when I was so close to unraveling at every second, and I am not entirely sure how I will ever be able to repay you for your kindness.
I wish the best for both of you in your careers and personal lives. You both have given so much that you deserve more than a fair share in return.
When I think about our growing up together, it seems extraordinarily odd that we were never quite friends as children, or teenagers. I have always, since we were small, seen you as incredibly bright, incredibly benevolent, and incredibly beautiful. And yes, I do mean always. You always had a kind word to spare for me and were quick to make anyone laugh with your uncanny knack for witty humor, even if you yourself were not in the best of sorts. That is a trait which is admirable above all others, that kind of self-sacrificing kindness. I am so incredibly happy that you have found a person with whom you can foresee spending the rest of your life, who makes you feel so happy and valued. You have always deserved someone so special.
Although we still do not speak often, I think of you always with fondness.
With continued love,
It’s difficult for me to think that I have known you now for five-ish years. It certainly does not seem that it has been so long. And we certainly have been through some things, haven’t we?
I am glad beyond measure that we continue to find common ground, even as we continue to grow beyond the basis of our original connection. You truly are a wonderful person, with so much patience, and so much love and joy to share, and I am so grateful, and so honored, that I have gotten to be a part of your life. You are so, so special to me.
I truly do wish the best for you, because you deserve that, and so much more.
Though we have grown apart recently, that does not mean that I love you any less now than I ever have. Although we do not see eye-to-eye on many things, I have always valued your company and your insight. You have taught me a great many things on a great many topics, and you have always encouraged me to do whatever I am having reservations about at the time, as you have always pursued exactly that which you most desire. I have had some of the best times of my life with you, and I hope that we can pursue more adventures in the future, even if they are small, because every moment I spend by your side is an adventure in itself.
I’ve said so before, and I will say so again: you are gilt bronze, and that is immeasurably better than solid gold. You have always been around, not only for me, but for everyone you hold dear, regardless of their need, and I have relied on you more times than I care to remember. I am only sorry that I have not been strong enough to return the favor. Your unending patience and care for me have never gone without notice. You, if anyone, are the one person in my life that I truly do not deserve. You have tended to my growth with a gentle hand and a warm heart, and for that I truly will never be able to thank you.
I’m disappointed that I never realized until you said so, but you really are the closest thing to a big brother I will ever have, and all my life I’ve loved you like you were.
To the moon and back, and again,
Where can I even begin with you?
It seems that our meeting, and thus our friendship, was certainly a fated thing. To grow up only miles away, only years apart from sharing schools, only to meet years after the fact is some kind of cosmic coincidence that cannot be ignored.
Regardless, I do not think we would be friends if I had met you any sooner.
Despite our unending list of differences, you have become one of the most invaluable people in my life because of our similarly unending list of similarities. I look to you for everything, even when I could tell anyone else, and especially when I can tell no one. Your caring and gentle and honest heart is something for which I will never find equal, and the passion with which I love you is immeasurable, even when you piss me off. You are so unapologetically genuine that I am frequently aghast at your openness, though that is by no means a bad thing.
I look forward to making new memories with you every single day, and seeing where this wild winding road takes us. (Though inevitably, it will be a Sheetz.)
See you soon,